Although MCs (mast cells) were discovered over 100 years ago, for the majority of this time their function was linked almost exclusively to allergy and allergic disease with few other roles in health and disease. The engineering of MC-deficient mice and engraftment of these mice with MCs deficient in receptors or mediators has advanced our knowledge of the role of MCs in vivo. It is now known that MCs have very broad and varied roles in both physiology and disease which will be reviewed here with a focus on some of the most recent discoveries over the last year. MCs can aid in maintaining a healthy physiology by secreting mediators that promote wound healing and homoeostasis as well as interacting with neurons. Major developments have been made in understanding MC function in defence against pathogens, in recognition of pathogens as well as direct effector functions. Probably the most quickly developing area of understanding is the involvement and contribution MCs make in the progression of a variety of diseases from some of the most common diseases to the more obscure.

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